Cunard will have all three of its ships in Southampton together, with the focus of events in the evening: a display by the Red Arrows and a massive fireworks send-off when the ships depart. But celebrations take place onboard all day as well, including talks from guest speakers with royal connections and a display of royal art, including pieces by HRH The Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Lord Snowdon, on all three ships. A rare vintage of Graham's 1952 Diamond Jubilee Tawny Port, specially released for Cunard's Jubilee cruises, will be on sale, while each ship will hold a Grand Ball on June 6 preceded by a Commemorative Dinner with a souvenir keepsake menu that sets out the 74-year association of Cunard with The Queen. All TV coverage of the June 5 royal procession through London will be screened onboard.
P&O Cruises tells us there will be a royal gala dinner onboard each ship with a toast to the Queen, and a rendition of the national anthem after both evening performances in the theatre on June 5, as well as royal-themed movies onboard and live coverage all day on June 5 of events in London. Each ship will hold a street party and a tea dance with Champagne, with special Jubilee cakes on display. Kids in the children's clubs will be put to work decorating bunting for the street parties.
Fred. Olsen Cruises will offer ‘red, white and blue' menus onboard over the bank holiday weekend and create a street party atmosphere with bunting, Union Jacks, traditional games and British sing-alongs. A special Jubilee Cocktail will be created and entertainment will focus on British Nights with variety shows and quizzes with a British theme.
Plans also include a Grand Tea Dance with complimentary sherry and cakes, and special packages in the ships' spas to make guests ‘Feel Like a Queen for the Day.' TV coverage of all the Jubilee events will be screened in the lounges.
Princess Cruises' Grand Princess will have a brass band send-off as its sails for Scandinavia from Southampton on June 2, with British comedians and singers onboard, a ‘British Invasion' production show, and royal-themed movies including The Queen and The King's Speech showing, as well as British-themed trivia pub quizzes and even a children's party. Passengers will be issued with union jack flags and hats and there will be a huge party on deck at which the national anthem will be sung and strawberries and cream and Pimms served, as well as cider and British beers. Royal historian Janet Campbell will give lectures. The Captain will raise a champagne toast to the Queen, and British pub food will be served at lunchtime on every sea day during the voyage, as well as a gala dinner one night with a special dessert dedicated to the Queen. A giant Jubilee cake will also be displayed in the Atrium.
Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas will host a lavish Diamond Jubilee Big Lunch on June 3 (the day those of us ashore are being encouraged to throw street parties) which, with 3,634 guests, is reckoned to be one of the biggest marking the Jubilee. Special dishes over the weekend will include British classics such as prawn cocktail, roast beef, bread and butter pudding, beer-battered fish and chips, steak and kidney pie and Cumberland sausages with mash. The ship's Royal Promenade will be decked out in red, white and blue bunting and passengers will be given flags to wave and will be able to enjoy live music, traditional village fair-style stalls, English strawberries and Union Jack cupcakes. Sculptors will create special Jubilee ice carvings throughout the ship. On June 4, the Royal Promenade will be the venue for the ‘Rock Britannia' performance by the onboard team.
Swan Hellenic's celebrations are slightly more refined; Minerva will be on a Baltic cruise, during which a Jubilee-themed gala dinner will be served including Fresh Turbot with Champagne Cream Sauce and Caviar topped with Scottish Lobster Beignet and Black Angus Beef Filet Wellington with Sauce Perigudine. The onboard entertainment include ‘A Right Royal Quiz' and a special performance of ‘Theatre Royal' from the Shakespeare Revue Company, enacting some of the Queen's favourite shows from across the years.
Sister line Voyages of Discovery will host a ‘Royal Get-Away Party' on June 5, with bacon butties, English muffins and ‘Queen-themed cocktails' as the Discovery Orchestra plays classic Brit hits during sailaway from Portsmouth. The ‘Best of British' gala dinner will serve up Sandringham Summer Vegetable Salad and Duke of Edinburgh Roast Leg of Lamb and each guest will be treated to a glass of sparkling wine to toast the Queen. Entertainment will include a one-off ‘Talented Brits' show featuring classic songs through the ages.
Hebridean Island Cruises' Hebridean Princess will also toast Her Majesty, showing the celebrations on a large-screen TV onboard and offering each guest a special Jubilee presentation box containing handmade chocolates to commemorate the occasion.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages will have a lecturer specialising in royal heritage onboard Marco Polo, which will be on British Isles Discovery cruise, while on sister ship Ocean Countess, a former officer from the Royal Yacht Britannia will give talks about life onboard Her Majesty's favourite ship. Festivities include a Diamond Jubilee Gala Dinner, a ‘Street Party' on deck, a Jubilee cake and special Royal cocktails, as well as royal-themed quizzes and games and a ‘Royal Variety Show'.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor